(I apologize in advance for this week’s handicapping and analysis articles being so short – it’s been a very busy week)
With the exception of Oxbow, the preps from Arkansas have been pretty lackluster for the most part. Super Ninety Nine has come back to flop in the Santa Anita Derby, which was run against a rather weak group of three-year olds from the West Coast. That performance only increased my confidence that those races were subpar. Oxbow is a nice colt – I just don’t think he’s as good as many have made him out to be. For competition’s sake, let’s hope I’m wrong.
I think War Academy walks over this field in the Arkansas Derby. This colt is beautifully bred to stay a route of ground, and he dominated in his only start going two turns. He figures to be a strong favorite tomorrow, probably in the ballpark of 8/5 – but honestly, I think 8/5 would be generous. In my eyes, what he lacks in experience he makes up for in ability. Bob Baffert has a history of shipping relatively lightly raced horses into Oaklawn and dominating – I expect the same thing in the Arkansas Derby. It’s probably a bold statement, but I’m anticipating a Bodemeister-like performance from War Academy tomorrow.
SELECTION: 2 – War Academy, Mike Smith; ML 2-1